All People’s Congress (APC) leader leader Nason Msoni says Zambia desperately needs a poverty Crack Squad, not a Cyber Crack Squad which is only meant to snoop, spy and curtail personal freedoms.

Reacting to government’s decision to establish a Special Joint Cyber Crime Crack Squad aimed at mitigating abuse and illegal use of the internet, Msoni stated that the move breached fundamental freedoms as enshrined by the Republican Constitution.

He feared that the establishment of the unorthodox squad would result in a cyber monster that would end up consuming online publications and block legitimate news websites, resulting in restricting citizens’ access to information.

“What Zambia desperately needs is a poverty Crack Squad and not an eavesdropping Cyber Crack Squad meant only to snoop and spy on Zambians exercising their fundamental freedoms of expression. It is clearly deceitful and a blue lie for government to claim that it has specifically been formed to deal with the growing trend in cyberspace crimes. Government has formed a special branch called the Special Joint Cyber Crime Crack Squad (SJCCS). Clearly, this creation is inimical to public good and on the fundamental enjoyment of freedoms enshrined in the Constitution. Clearly, government intentions with the creation of this evil squad is in breach of the fundamental freedoms as guaranteed by the Republican Constitution,” Msoni stated.

He stated that it was also possible that the architects of the idea were looking ahead to the 2021 general elections to blackout the internet, such as what obtained in neighbouring countries.

“Delegated legislation cannot override the Constitution to create monsters out to haunt citizens from enjoying their rights and freedoms. We should all be weary and suspicious of such unorthodox creation and which we think is not a priority amongst so many competing needs. This thing will turn out into a cyber monster consuming online publications and blocking news websites. There is also an obvious danger that the architects of this thing are looking ahead to the 2021 elections to blackout the Internet like in the neighbouring countries where the elections were stolen and failed the true winners. It would be a dangerous underestimation to buy into what the Transport and Communications Minister, Engineer Brian Mushimba, is asserting that the exponential growth in the information and communication technology sector has necessitated the creation of such a squad,” he stated.

Msoni stated that Zambia only needed viable squads to fight and minimise escalating poverty levels and suffering among Zambians.

“Arguably, the only viable squads we need are those that work towards fighting and minimising poverty and suffering amongst our people. Mr Mushimba’s assertion that the wider and increased availability of the digital platforms, such as the Internet and mobile technology, has led to some individuals using ICTs to propagate illegal vices. This statement alone is a clear tell-tale sign that the regime is now intent on muzzling the press and the free flow of information between citizens,” argued Msoni.